Apple’s M1 chip found vulnerable to browser-based channel attack

    This attack works across hardware platforms including Intel Core, AMD Ryzen, Samsung Exynos, and Apple M1 architectures.
    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Mar 12 2021, 18:26 IST
    Apple M1
    Apple M1 (Apple)
    Apple M1
    Apple M1 (Apple)

    Apple last year launched M1-powered Mac Mini and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air laptops. The company's ARM-based chip has been in the news recently owing to the slew of Malware that the chip is vulnerable to. Now, researchers have found another vulnerability that affects the company's M1 chipset.

    Researchers at Cornell University have found Apple's M1 chip to be vulnerable to a browser side-channel attack that is JavaScript-free. Researchers, as per a report by GizmoChina began with the aim of first identifying the JavaScript features necessary for the attacks and then exploring the effectiveness of disabling or restricting JavaScript for mitigating these attacks.

    To test their theory, they developed a sequence of attacks with progressively decreasing dependency on JavaScript features. In other words, they created a proof-of-concept using CSS and HTML that works even when the script execution is completely blocked, which displays microarchitectural website fingerprinting attacks.

    In simple words, this vulnerability allows malicious hackers to eavesdrop on users' web activity. What's concerning is that not only does it allow hackers to bypass JavaScript but it also enables them to bypass the security in Tor browser, Deter-Fox and Chrome Zero.

    What's equally concerning is that this attack works across hardware platforms including Intel Core, AMD Ryzen, Samsung Exynos, and Apple M1 architectures. The report says that while all chips are vulnerable to this attack, Samsung and Apple's platforms are more vulnerable.

    Notably, this is the third vulnerability found in M1 chips. Prior to this, a mysterious malware called Silver Sparrow was discovered to be running on almost 30,000 Macs across the globe. Prior to that, M1 Macs were targeted by the Pirrit adware family.

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    First Published Date: 12 Mar, 18:26 IST
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